Arcadia Of My Youth
Just after World War I, a lone pilot, Phantom F. Harlock II, is flying his biplane Arcadia through the treacherous skies of New Guinea, trying to find a way to cross the Owen Stanley Mountains. With ten minutes worth of fuel left, he must find a way to conquer the Stanley Witch, but as he races up the side of the mountain, he hears someone laughing...the voice of the mountain, perhaps...as he struggles to survive in the thin, frosty air and make it across...
1000 years later, his distant descendant, having been defeated by the alien Illumidus Empire, must decide whether to be content as a subordinate of the aliens, or to find his own freedom, no matter what the cost in the lives of his friends and the pain he must endure. The beginnings of the epic saga of the space pirate Captain Harlock are told in this melodramatic 1982 movie, how he meets his friends- including Ooyama Tochiro, the master engineer who is the very soul of his ship, the intrepid Queen Emeraldas, and his love, Maya, who sacrifices herself for the freedom that Earth doesn't seem to want anymore- and how his code of honor and his way of sailing the Sea of Stars comes to pass.
Do you remember seeing Captain Harlock on TV back when you were a kid? Okay, maybe you're like me, and rediscovering the anime classics after joining in on anime fandom at a later date. But that doesn't mean we should ignore the anime of the 70s and 80s, with its now-dated animation and now-oft-copied storylines. Arcadia of My Youth is definitely a good watch, in a genre that no longer purely exists, that of the melodramatic space opera.
Yes, it's *very* melodramatic, with plenty of self-sacrifice and "manly tears", the ones shed when good friends are lost in battle, yada yada yada. You really have to be in the mood for this kind of thing to enjoy it to its full potential. Don't expect sudden bits of humor to jump in out of the blue (or black, as it may be). You won't find them. However, Harlock and company put on a good show. Never mind the rather strange ties to generations past (genetic memory?!?) and the numerous references to the Stanley Witch. (For that matter, what's a glacier doing in New Guinea anyway?) If you've watched or read any of Leiji Matsumoto's work, you know what to expect: heavy war drama, with great space battleships taking the place of armored samurai on the field. The sense of pure Honor is the spirit that imbues this film - you get to admire even the Illumidus Commander Zeda, despite his being obviously one of the "bad guys". It's something you just don't find whenever you think of today's utterly impersonal wars, waged by madmen and technocrats. It's all utter fantasy. But it's still interesting to watch, with all the angst on the screen running like tears down the faces of Harlock and his men.
The animation itself is pretty dated by today's standards, but it's still on par with the features of its time. The sweeping orchestral melodies only enhance the sense of pure melodrama this movie exudes, swelling at all the high moments, just like the space opera it truly is.
It's a cry for a sense of justice, a yearning for freedom, and it's a good show to boot. Arcadia of My Youth is escapist fantasy, to a place beyond the corrupt little world we live in. And as such, it succeeds, if only for a while, before we return to our relatively boring lives. For just a moment, by the end of the movie, you can just imagine sailing through the Sea of Stars, living a life of a pirate... Sure, it's impractical, but sometimes, we just can't be practical all of the time. Right?
A dated, but still powerful classic that helped to define the anime space opera genre for a generation of viewers. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: This flick does get pretty violent, with quite a few red shirts, and a few main characters getting shot onscreen, crucified, etc. Nothing remotely sexual, though. Probably best for teens and above, as children (well, today's children, anyway) wouldn't really be interested enough to be caught up in the melodrama.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Arcadia Of My Youth © 1982 Toei Co Ltd / Tokyu Agency
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